Monday, 7 November 2011 10:06 AM

Discretionary Funds Questioned

The subject of the discretionary funds often raises questions to the Solomon Islands citizens, especially with regards to how it had been and should be administered.

Very often we hear through local media that these funds are abused and used for personal interest.

Every year since the prime ministership of late Bartholomew Ulufalu, our parliament allocated 10 million Dollars in a discretionary fund under the discretion of the Prime minister of the day. These funds are public money and are to be used only for and when there is an urgent need for national development projects which is not catered for in the national budget. However, these discretionary funds although guided by a policy, are subjected to abuse, which may lead to official corruption.

This week, the local media have published issues relating to these discretionary funds being abused. It was alleged that more than $7m of the $10m allocated for the year 2011 have been misappropriated.

If the government cannot follow the guidelines that govern the administering of these funds as alleged, then it is better that such funds are only done away with as they provide incentives for corruption.

Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) is concerned with recent public reporting and therefore calls on the government to provide an in depth explanation. On the other hand, citizens and Parliamentarians alike must exercise maturity approach.

Therefore, the Leadership Code Commission must be the first statutory required institution or the Police to register corruption cases and to progress and monitor them. Not the media.

TSI understands that discretionary funds and other similar funds within the budget performed with minimal or disregard to accountability and transparency. TSI fears that since such funds are at the discretion of the prime minister, they are likely to be misappropriated since he has the sole power over how the funds are spent or allocated.

Now that it has been revealed to the public that they are being abused, it is timely that the government of the day considers reviewing the policies that governs how the funds should be spent. Otherwise, if the government is serious about curbing corruption then it is wise that they just do away with such funds as they promote incentives for corruption.

TSI challenges the government and relevant institutions to reconsider remedy these vicious payments through proper institutions or prompt independent investigation. Let us favour the interest of the people of this nation today and not tomorrow. TSI further calls on persons who might have heard of any corruption cases or similar to come forward and report them at our office.

Source: Press Release, Transparency Solomon Islands

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